Sunday, July 5, 2020

Review: Redemption of the Maverick Millionaire

She was such an idiot. He saw her as an obligation, nothing more - a problem he'd needed to fix. While she was as big a fool as ever where he was concerned. He hadn't shunned other women because nobody else could live up to her memory. He'd been punishing himself.
 I love reunion stories. Especially reunion stories where the hero has done the heroine dirty and has to crawl over broken glass to win her back. If your tastes run towards the blood-thirsty as mine do, then Redemption of the Maverick Millionaire by Michelle Douglas has you covered. Whoa doggie, did this hero have his work cut out for him!

Four years ago Damon Macy betrayed Eve Clark and she walked out of his life leaving scorched Earth behind.  Damon was in love with her, even though he firmly believed she was way too good for him. Now he's gotten wind that a developer has his claws in Mirror Glass Bay, the small Australian coastal village where Eve has built a new life revitalizing the local motel.  The developer plans to build a big splashy resort, one Damon fears will drive Eve's motel into the ground, so he pulls some strings and buys the developer out.  It's the least he could do for her after his betrayal.

There's a small fly in the ointment however - Eve wanted the development project to happen!  The truth is that Mirror Glass Bay's economy needs a shot in the arm, young people are leaving the town, and if something doesn't happen soon the school will close, the medical clinic - and then where will that leave Mirror Glass Bay?  As a ghost town.  Now here comes Damon, swooping back into her life like a bull in a china shop ruining any hope for the town's future.  Or has he?  Suitably humbled by his grandstanding, Damon vows to her that he'll make it right and now he's staying in her motel for at least a fortnight and dammit all the hell, she's still painfully attracted to him even as she fights the urge to throat punch him.

This is a reunion story where the heroine has every right to want to throat punch the hero and he's racked with guilt from the first chapter.  His guilt, knowing full well what he threw away, this is a Harlequin hero who has been celibate for the four years since the heroine walked out of his life.  A rarity to be sure, and it gives reader an imperfect hero in pursuit.  I questioned for a good chunk of this story if he truly still loved her or if he was just assuaging his guilt - and while that sounds dreadful, it actually makes for a tension-filled read.

Eve was devastated by Damon's betrayal and sure, she ran away from Sydney - but she ran to what turned out to be a better life for her.  Fixing up the motel, making a new home for her and her grandmother, being a successful local businesswoman with the pulse on her community.  She didn't fail in Sydney - she got the rug pulled out from under her.

A couple of things I really liked about this story was that it's a small town romance with some realism.  Oh sure, there's still a healthy polish on the veneer, but the lack of economic opportunity in such towns is rarely (hell, if ever!) addressed in small town romances - so polish or not it was nice to see a little realism for a change.  The fear of the residents is that if "something" doesn't happen soon, the closure of the public school and small medical clinic won't be far behind.  Also, consent is actually discussed - although not in so many words. Damon wants to win back Eve but there's more than one instance here were boundaries are discussed.  She tells him to back-off on more than one occasion, and he does. So much of the push-pull in the romance tango here comes into play because Eve, against her more rational instincts, makes the first move and gets spooked.

What didn't work so well?  Some pacing issues. It's a little slow to start and sags in a couple of places.  Also, Eve's grandmother is made out to be kind of a Big Deal (Eve moved to Mirror Glass Bay so her grandmother could still live an independent life) but there's only two really small scenes in the book where she makes an appearance and it's not until halfway through the book when she shows up. She's only one of 2 people outside of Eve who knows what he did to break her heart, you'd think A Spry Romancelandia Granny would have made her presence felt a heck of a lot more given the circumstances.

Pacing issues aside, it's still an engaging small town romance featuring a hero who has to spend a good chunk of the story groveling.  And I'm just blood-thirsty enough that I'm always going to want more of that.  Yeah, he did her wrong, but I finished the last page fully believing that he'd spend the rest of his life making it up to her.

Final Grade = B


Jen Twimom said...

Love this review - You got me all wrapped up in finding out what happened/happens between these two. Sounds like a good story. Thanks!

Wendy said...

Jen: OMG - that was half the reason I got so sucked into the story. The author teases the reader for about half the book on what the hero did to screw up his relationship with the heroine so badly. And it's a doozy. No wonder he spends the entire book basically in pursuit and practically begging for forgiveness.

azteclady said...

I absolutely love the idea of a hero who spends the entire novel making up for being a shithead to the heroine.

Wendy said...

AL: Someone asked me on Twitter yesterday and I really should have been more clear in my review - so I'll say it in the comments. The hero did NOT cheat on the heroine. Oh, he did her dirty - but not like that.